This weekend I was in Connecticut. Despite being mostly a suburban state there are beautiful rolling country hills and farms dappled over the landscape. While at a farm on Sunday I wandered off and found their grape vines. The farm currently makes wine but hasn’t yet started using their own grapes. Maybe this fall will be the firs time they do, because the plants were dripping in green fruit. I, of course, reached behind the netting for a nibble. The grapes were surprisingly sweet and delicious. We’ll see how the wine comes out.
Today I’m grateful for:
- A new hair stylist who can actually cut my hair. I have never had anyone cut my hair so well; cut it in a way that made sense for the type of hair I have (thick and wavy). Additionally, she nailed the picture I’d ripped out of a catalog - how often does that happen?! She gave me bangs that I can totally rock, too. gold stars all around. (You can see a picture here, although it is straightened in the picture). I haven’t changed my hair style in 9 years; I’m having fun with this one.
- The neighbor’s raspberries. Fall berries don’t have the flavor their summer counterparts do, but I’ve never been one to turn down a ripe raspberry. The neighbor had a big bush that spills over multiple property lines and I can’t stand to see fresh fruit go to waste, so I nab a few each morning and each night. Yes, there are that many.
- Fall colors. Despite this being a season where things come to pass, there are rich, last minute bursts of color everywhere. You see it in the leaves, in the wild rose hips, the bright beets coming out of the ground, and the sunsets. I’m doing my best to notice it all and store up the memory for seasons when the world is bleak.
- My local YMCA. For providing a pool and a stationary bike so that I can break a sweat and lose my breath enough to hopefully maintain my endurance while I wait for this damn toe to heal. I ran 3 miles last night. It wasn’t comfortable. I guess I’ll be working on my swimming technique for at least another week. The Y is clean and has a great atmosphere. It’s such a relief after the misery that was Planet Fitness.
- Homemade gifts. Recently I’ve been given some homemade gifts that just put gift giving in perspective. I’ll save the details for an upcoming post, but there’s something extra special about getting something you love that someone who cares about you made. It gives you a feeling that an expensive gadget never could.
What are you grateful for these days?
On the last day of my vacation in the Dutch Antilles I was walking out of the ocean, turned to say something about what beach to go to next for better snorkeling, and without looking where I was going bashed my foot into a piece of coral. My fourth toe went in one direction as my foot went in another, resulting in a cracking noise, and well, I won’t get into the rest. As I sat in my beach chair, staring at my bloody, oddly bent, swelling toe, I started to cry “I’m going to be deformed!” I said in a whimpery voice. As a long distance runner my feet are something I take very seriously. Two things crossed my mind: would this weird bent toe now be weird and bent forever, and would it affect my running.
At the time I wasn’t sure if my toe and foot were just badly sprained or if my toe was broken. It would be two weeks before I finally went in for an x-ray. I only went in because I was going to start running again (two weeks off is like torture to a runner) and had read online that running on a broken toe was not advised (this would not be the first time I’ve run with a broken bone in my foot. These are not things that are obvious to long distance runners, despite their obvious nature).
The x-ray proved that the toe was broken (spiral fracture). Luckily the bone wasn’t displaced and the break didn’t appear to affect the joint. The doctor said I could run (WHAT?! YES!) but I had to get a carbon fiber insert first, and I’d have to use it for 8 weeks even if my toe felt better before then.
Let me pause to note that I have not run since the second week in September. We are having one of the most stunning autumns I’ve ever seen. To not run this time of year takes a lot of self-control. I’ve been biking and swimming to try and hold on to my endurance. The swimming has been great. It’s a new sport for me (I’m slowly becoming a master of the breaststroke in part because I’m the only one in the pool who does the breaststroke). I see it toning my body in ways running didn’t (which is always a benefit of switching up sports). It also wears me out the way running does, which is what I think we runners miss most when we’re benched. Swimming has been the silver lining of all of this.
I got my carbon fiber insert this week but it didn’t help as much as I thought it would. It keeps my foot more immobile, but not totally immobile. My toe is still causing me some pain. It’s beginning to ease off though. The doctor said running would be somewhat uncomfortable for a while, but as long as I wore the insert (and buddy tape my toe to the neighboring toe for another month) it’s ok to do it (ice and elevation afterwards if it acts up). The doctor also said my toe might have a slightly funny bed to it forever, but that it might be back in the right place once all the swelling was gone. Monday I swam because running wasn’t comfortable enough, but Thursday I’m going to give running a try.
I’m trying to be good about this whole not running thing, glad that it isn’t affecting training (which doesn’t start officially until January), but disappointed that it may have affected the base I built. I have never had the kind of comfortable, long-term base as the one I built this summer (due to trail running and longer daily runs). What if it’s gone? My max heart rate on the bike and my time in the pool give me reason to hope, but my legs haven’t pounded pavement in a month*. Dear legs, I’m sorry in advance.
*I know how complaints from runners sound.
Here you are.
Today, from the garden
This year I grew my own. They are easy and don’t demand much at any stage. They were a little slow to get going but have become real producers (started from seed). These are a delicacy and I highly recommend sticking a few in your plot next year. Supposedly they are perennials, but I’m not sure if the harsh winters here are too much for them.
October is like your best friend or a family member sitting you down and having a chat with you about reality. Things have changed and it’s time to face the music. You have to hold October on your tongue and get used to it: oCtober. ocktober. OCTOBER. It’s crisp sounding. It is sharp and honest.
October isn’t transition (that’s what September was for), it is full on change. There is no more flip flopping and playing on the edge of summer like a secret that hasn’t yet become destructive. October is the unstripped truth.
But change can be beautiful and October is stunning. Just like May is relief, October is the purest form of beauty and that warms the soul in its own way. October always has a way of first showing me that things are really different now, and then welcoming (challenging?) me to absorb every ounce of inspiration it brings.
October is a gift.
Ike is an important part of the pickled beet process too. His blood pressure is probably so low right now. You’re welcome Ike.
The coyotes were out early, yipping and calling out their strange howl before 8pm (which is well past dark now). The deer have found the sides of roads again. Tonight I saw a big buck who stood so beautifully and stared me in the eye, strangely unmoving and unafraid, silently reminding me to be on the lookout, as though my mother’s warning was not enough. Above us all was a crescent halloween-like moon, rusty orange and hazy.
Fall has come on so soft and gentle this year.
If this were Williamsburg, bars and chefs would pay lots of money for foraged apples over an hour away, refusing to name the address or the picker they got them from. Then they’d juice them and add the cider to soups and cocktails calling them ‘artisan’, and explain how important it is to keep certain strains alive (in secret, of course), and the benefits of connecting with real food.
That sort of thing.
But this isn’t New York and I’m no bar tender or chef. This is Maine where everything people do has an element of practicality to it. I like fresh pressed cider that hasn’t been pasteurized or UV treated and that’s, unfortunately, hard to come by these days. Fresh pressed cider still has the minerals and vitamins in it. We are the state with the greatest percentage of land covered by forest. Johnny Appleseed made his mark on this land, especially on the farms around here.
I recently got a juicer and this thing is a powerhouse. I’d be crazy not to take advantage of the season. I’ve been scouting trees all over town (it’s a great year for apples) and I’m collecting them like a squirrel with acorns. I even consulted Parks & Rec about trees I might be able to pick from.
One of the best parts about living here is how much is right at your fingertips, growing wild and ripe for the taking.
I’ve been off work since September 4th, and I go back tomorrow. People have asked me both if I still like my job and if I am ready to go back. The vacation was fully enjoyed but the answer to both is yes; how good to say so.
When I left it was summer and now it is fall. Everything around me says so. Firewood is getting cut and the garden is dying (I pulled plants up and out of the earth today) and the bare ground looks beautiful to me; like a deep breath. The hydrangeas are turning a deep malbec hue. The apples on the trees are blushing now, catching the eye of anyone passing. I got some from the neighbor’s woods to press in my new juicer. Carrots and celery juice never tasted so tart. Carrots from the garden I might add. I like providing for myself.
The flannel sheets are clean so bring on the cold weather. We’ve done this before and it shall not be any different this year. Most people take comfort in routine, anyway.